Things continue to snowball for Bayer in the California courtrooms — in a ruling today, the company that acquired Monsanto was ordered by a jury to pay $2 billion to a couple who blamed their cancer on the glyphosate-based Roundup weedkiller.
This is the largest payout in this series of cases to date — and, in fact, rates as one of the highest payouts in history over an alleged defective product. The verdict comes about a month and a half after a jury awarded $80 million to another person, Edwin Hardeman, who has cancer.
In this new case, lawyers for Alva and Alberta Pilliod argued in San Francisco Superior Court that the couple’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma was the result of using Roundup for more than four decades as part of residential landscaping.
According to Bloomberg, “An award of $2 billion will be vulnerable to a legal challenge by Bayer because courts have generally held that punitive
damages shouldn’t be more than 10 times higher than compensatory damages.”
This is the latest defeat for the widely used herbicide, often hailed as one of the safest weedkillers available. Nearly all scientific bodies and associated research have affirmed the safety of glyphosate.
In addition to the Hardeman and Pilliod cases, a jury in San Francisco last year initially awarded a man, Dewayne Johnson, $289 million in a case related to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and glyphosate-based products, but the judge later slashed the punitive damages levied against Bayer/Monsanto in that case to $39 million, down from $250 million (and left another $39 million in compensatory damages intact). In that case, the jury said that the company deliberately failed to warn consumers or regulators about the product’s risks. An appeal is pending.